Paper Clutter: This is Day 11 of our 30-Day Declutter, De-stress, Simplify Challenge! If you are not signed up for the challenge sign up here to join the fun!

It’s the little things

A piece of paper may be small, but it can take up so much mental space! Now, add piles of ignored papers and you have a colossal mess.

Paper clutter and mental space

Paper isn’t just paper. It’s information, memories and postponed responsibilities. All of which take up a huge amount of mental space.

We usually accumulate paper clutter because we don’t want to deal with what the paper represents. Bills, junk mail, loan information and tax records can be stressful to deal with.

There’s also the memories that some paper clutter can hold. Old cards, love letters, children’s artwork, medical records and legal documents can bring up heavy emotions.  When we allow those kinds of “heavy” paperwork to hang around, it becomes too much to deal with….so we don’t deal with it.

Limiting beliefs surrounding paper clutter

I once worked with a sweet lady who was holding onto every piece of artwork and assignment her children brought home from school. Paper was littering the house.

She was holding onto them out of the obligation and responsibility she placed on herself because of a limiting belief: Good moms save everything their children bring home, put it all in a scrapbook and then pass it on to the children someday. It’s what her mom did, so she thought she needed to do the same.

She didn’t have the time, energy or desire to scrapbook, but she felt obligated to do it. That’s why it was piled up everywhere. She felt guilty about this, so every time she looked at those piles it was as if the clutter was shaming her: Telling her she wasn’t a great mom.

That’s a limiting belief that was causing her to drown in unwanted paper clutter.

After acknowledging the limiting belief, this amazing mom was able to declutter most of the old school papers, create a reasonable amount of storage space for it to “live” and clear up some mental space.

Today’s assignment: Trash bag therapy

  • Grab a trash bag, walk around the house and throw away all the pieces of crumpled up paper, sticky notes and junk mail you can find.
  • Pick a pile of paperwork and sort into 2 piles. Only 2 piles!
    • Keep Pile – set those papers aside, and don’t sort them right now. If you know where those papers belong, take them there! If you don’t have a home for them yet, that’s OK. We’ll deal with them later.
    •  Toss Pile – Throw away/recycle anything you no longer need or care about.
  • Still having a hard time getting started? Pull out your journal to figure out what mental blocks are preventing you from getting started.

Dealing with paper clutter is time consuming, so this will take you more than one day. That’s OK! Pace yourself and give yourself credit for getting started.

Day 11 Recap

  • Paper is small, but takes up an enormous amount of mental space.
  • There are usually limiting beliefs hiding inside your paper clutter. Be brave and face them. The fear is always worse than reality.


The Ducks In A Row Course can help you get your important documents organized and decluttered.

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